Coetzee in strife, Alberts to return

Marcell Coetzee is in a race against time to be fit for the Springboks’ first game of the World Cup.

The flanker suffered a knee injury against Argentina on Saturday and is expected to be out of action for six weeks, which puts his availability in doubt for the opening stage of the World Cup, with the Boks set to kick off their campaign against Japan on 19 September.

Bok coach Heyneke Meyer will name his World Cup squad at the end of August, and while Coetzee would have been expected to be included, consideration will need to be given to the complicated dynamic of possibly taking an injured player to the tournament.

In Durban on Monday, team doctor Craig Roberts confirmed Coetzee’s injury was a big concern after Saturday’s Test.

‘Marcell has a grade two medial knee ligament strain. The usual rehab for that is around six weeks, so that’s a tight timeframe from now, and when I start getting nervous. For him it’s a race against time and we’re doing everything we can to manage it.’

Jean de Villiers was set to see a specialist after fracturing his jaw against Argentina, but is expected be out for four to six weeks.

Roberts said that while Willie le Roux was suffering from a sore and stiff ankle, the fullback will not be in any doubt for the World Cup.

Those injuries will necessitate at least three changes to the Springbok team for this Saturday’s match in Buenos Aires, which should see the return of Willem Alberts.

Roberts confirmed that Alberts was fit and available for selection, while Victor Matfield is also expected to be cleared to play. A call on Fourie du Preez’s availability is set to be made early in the week.

Meanwhile, Springbok scrum coach Pieter de Villiers said they were seeking clarity on a number of questionable decisions made at scrum time by referee Romain Poite.

‘It certainly was a frustrating day, and I don't want this to sound like excuses because I hate that, but we certainly want to get back to Romain Poite and get some clarity and feedback on a few calls on Saturday.

‘I have obviously been through those scrums many times by now and some of the calls I don't understand. Not one of our scrums went to completion, so it’s difficult to get a technical note on our scrummaging because there was always a penalty one way or another.’

Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images

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Craig Lewis